I don’t particularly like discussing moderation and, in fact, it’s been much less of a problem than it once was. However, for various reasons, I thought I would quickly stress something about how, and why, I run this blog. I don’t have any great interest in comment threads that degenerate into slanging matches, or that simply end up being people complaining/insulting those with whom they mostly disagree. What I really appreciate is that the comment threads here do tend to be mostly thoughtful and informed. One reason for this, I think, is that I’ve had quite a strict moderation policy which either discourages some from commenting, and/or encourages others to comment appropriately.

Even though the comments threads here are mostly quite reasonable (in my view, at least) I do still delete some comments. The reasons can vary. Maybe it’s off topic. Maybe I just regard it as not constructive. Sometimes it can even be quite amusing, but a little ruder than I like. Maybe it’s a topic we’ve covered time and time again and I can’t see any reason to repeat previous discussions that achieved little when they first occurred. Maybe it’s promoting something that is simply wrong that we’ve covered before, and I can’t be bothered debunking it again. Sometimes I even get moderation wrong, but moderation decisions are final.

A key point, though, is I do my best to not make it personal. I have no problem with people trying again, ideally while trying to work out why their comment might have been deleted before. Of course, if it’s off-topic, ideally move on to something that is on-topic. I also don’t mind people contacting me privately if they think there is a problem; I can’t guarantee to resolve it, but I’m normally happy to try. What I really appreciate are those who understand that running, and moderating, a blog isn’t easy and that even if I get things wrong, it’s not intentional. There’s also a limit to how much time I can spend on this; there are other things (such as my actual job and my family) that have to take precedence over something that is essentially only a hobby.

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19 Responses to Moderation

  1. I should probably have added that Willard also helps with the moderation. Again, the intent is to maintain a civil, thoughtful, and informed discussion.

  2. Macro says:

    @ATTP I have no problem with any of that – and this subscriber appreciates the time and thought you put into running this blog.

  3. I’m sure the effective moderation, and the fact the owner is involved in responding to comments, are the primary reasons this blog is so successful.

  4. Mal Adapted says:

    Although I’ve been guilty of “complaining/insulting those with whom [I] mostly disagree” on aTTP a few times, and been moderated for it, moderation has indeed had the effect of encouraging me to comment appropriately. There’s no doubt I’ve learned more about the physical science, economics and politics of AGW as a result.

  5. Something I should probably have added, is that I’ve moderated on my own blog 🙂 If I was to give advice to someone else who was running an active blog, it would be to have someone else )another moderator) who isn’t afraid to tell you when you yourself have crossed the line.

  6. kudos on fine moderation. This is as good as moderation gets.

  7. Willard says:

    > I do still delete some comments.

    A reminder: deleting comments is AT’s explicit policy, and each and every single deletion is AT approved.

    I personally wouldn’t be so kind as to delete comments, and let go less easily.

  8. angech says:

    There is an interesting range.
    Some as Mal said for being too sassy or crass. Good, I feel better if my comments in that vein are removed for ever.
    Some for being inane. Happens. Verbosity, pompousness, going round in circles, losing the plot, OK.
    Then there are those where the opinion gets too hot, too touchy, one has to look after one’s base,
    Finally, there are those times when the counter opinion is well argued and irrefutable. These are the ones that I hate seeing disappear.
    Of course it might just be my ineptitude on the I pad, I am sure that some of my comments possibly never made it through in the first place.
    Possibly a name and “deleted” or deleted comment could be put in which would at least acknowledge receipt of the comment?

  9. Joshua says:

    Finally, there are those times when the counter opinion is well argued and irrefutable. These are the ones that I hate seeing disappear.

    Ha. My guess is that no such comments have disappeared.

  10. Perhaps you should offer Judge Alsup your services as a moderator- Viscount Monckton has just filed an amicus curiae brief in the California v Exxon case

  11. angech says:

    “Ha. My guess is that no such comments have disappeared.”
    True but how will we ever know?

  12. Steven Mosher says:

    moderation debates.

    My own recollection was that the rules here were not uniformly enforced.
    I tested that. That was my conclusion.
    so I left.
    Then I figured that testing the boundaries was kinda being a prick, and I couldnt both
    test the boundaries and decide whether or not the boundaries were being properly enforced.

    in the end the conversation value outweighed making any point about fairness.

    That said, I still prefer a method where “offending” comments are left inplace with the offense
    noted, so that people can see and judge what the rules are ( in practice)

    After three strikes just ban people. any way, not my house, not my rules, not worth anything
    other than an academic debate

  13. Michael Lloyd says:


    I had a question regarding something you wrote and used your contact form to send it to you some weeks ago. I did not get a reply and assumed you no longer were using that contact form. Is that so?

  14. Michael,
    I did reply. However, the email address that you had entered (or that the system entered for you) was invalid, so it bounced.

  15. Willard says:

    > True but how will we ever know?

    This argument invalidates any kind of moderation, Doc. Since moderation is both a right and a duty, I duly submit that your appeal to ignorance is invalid. With all due respect, I think it reflects poorly on contrarians more than anything.

  16. angech says:

    “Doc. Since moderation is both a right and a duty,”
    Very well put. Totally agree.
    You are doing a good job.
    I have very little or no beef with moderation when I am feeling good.
    On bad days my comments duly deserve and warrant moderation.
    Long ago I worked out that if I wanted or felt a comment was really worthwhile [Joshua] and I did not wish to lose it it was best to keep a copy on my own computer.
    Not the moderator’s problem.
    I still do this from time to time.
    Since most of the time the moderation is moderate and my current level of engagement is not as angry with the state of climate and more to learn I have no problems.
    My mood seems to fluctuate in accordance with Global temp and sea ice extents both of which move very slowly and are more positive at the moment.

  17. verytallguy says:

    I would like to propose that any post greater than 10 lines without a paragraph break should be moderated.

    However, as this post in itself constitutes playing the ref, it will probably be moderated and never see the light of day.

  18. Willard says:

    > as this post in itself constitutes playing the ref

    Z’OK. AT kinda asked for it.

    In my experience, preserving consistency at all cost is not worth it. It leads to much more administrative effort, reduces exchanges too much, and doesn’t reduce whining or lulzing. So I believe we’re trying to let things go as long as the ball is being played and peddling is kept to a minimum.

    I think the idea of warning before moderating works well so far. Most ClimateBall scrums subside without too much piling on. Food fights are rarer too.

    Your “make paragraphs” suggestion would be simpler to implement with a plugin, something a free WP does not allow.

  19. Pingback: Moderation — …and Then There’s Physics | Moderation

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